10 days in ecuador: 5 suggested itineraries, Ecuador - Dec 24 - Jan 4, 2019
Our first trip to Ecuador was breath-taking to say the least. Galapagos has been on my bucket list for a long time and it was an exhilarating experience. Every island we visited was different and unique. It was impossible to get bored on the islands. Places like Los Tunales, the beach on Isabela island, and the ride on "Windrose" yacht are permanently etched in my memory.
Our trip was for 12 days, including 2 days for traveling. We spent 4 days in mainland Ecuador and 6 on Galapagos. In retrospect, we would have spent at least 1 day less in mainland and more time on Galapagos. Historical Quito, Mitad Del Mundo, Otavalo and Cotopaxi were good places to visit on mainland. Ideally, I would have loved more time in Otavalo instead of visiting some local waterfalls. Even Cuicocha lagoon was hyped up as a lake with active volcanic bubbles, but it was a major let down. All the places we visited on Galapagos were wonderful and given more time, we would have loved to visit more islands. The speed boat ride from Puerto Ayora to Isabela island was the bumpiest ride ever and there was not a single person on the boat who didn't come out without a queasy stomach. FYI, a one-way ferry ride costs $30 and lasts 2.5 hours. A plane trip costs $135 and lasts 30 mins. In the large scheme of things, we might have just selected the plane trip instead of enduring the bumpiest boat ride of our lives.
Linda was extremely informative and knowledgeable about Ecuador. She was great at setting our expectations and answering our questions promptly. Our local guides were a collective mix. Jorge (George), our guide on land, was great, but provided info that was less engaging for the kids. On Galapagos, our guide to Los Tunales, Sebastian, stole the show. He was patient, funny and knew a lot about the local area and habitats. While snorkeling, he ensured we all saw the key pieces without rushing . He walked with my mom, who is 72 years old, at her pace guiding her on the rocks etc. Overall, a great experience with him. All the other guides were decent.
As a group of 9, finding hotel rooms together was a big challenge. In most places, we didn't have rooms near each other. They were almost always on different floors, which was a logistical headache. In Quito, our hotel, Cruz Loma, didn't have elevators and it was painful to trudge up 4 flights of stairs with suitcases. Unfortunately, they didn't offer help with our luggage nor did they heed our request for rooms on lower floors. The hotels on Galapagos islands were normal 3-star places. Nothing too fancy to write about. Again, no elevators, but the staff helped our with our stuff. Breakfast was included for all our days, but 10 days of eating nothing but eggs, bread, yogurt and juice got too tiring. I wish they would provide a bit more variety, even if we had to pay for it.
Overall, this was a once in a lifetime trip and one that we will recall for many years to come. Thanks to Linda and Kimkim for helping us with this vacation !